NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.—Police were searching Jan. 25 for four suspects involved in a daytime smash-and-grab robbery at a jewelry store near Fashion Island.
On Monday at around 3 p.m., four suspects wearing hoodies, masks, and gloves went inside JB Diamonds & Fine Jewelry and used hammers to shatter the display cases, stealing an unknown amount of jewelry, Newport Beach Police spokeswoman Heather Rangel told The Epoch Times.
One of the suspects appeared first at the store’s gate, wearing a typical COVID mask. When the store owner’s son let him in, three other suspects charged in with the hammers, according to Tom Bacazas, owner of Newport Beach Athletic Club next door.
The suspects then took off in a black getaway car, Rangel said. It’s unclear whether security camera footage captured the vehicle’s license plate.
“You don’t want robberies right next to your building. It’s a pretty safe area,” Bacazas told The Epoch Times. “But that’s just the world we’re living in right now. If you don’t do anything about it, they’re going to feel free to steal.
“I think these guys have a routine. This is what they’re doing, and they’re going to keep doing it until somebody stops them, but nobody seems to be stopping them.”
An owner of multiple high-end jewelry stores in Newport Beach and Orange County, who wished to remain unnamed, said he has concerns for his own stores, noting that the smash-and-grab-style robberies seem to be drifting down from Los Angeles to Orange County over time.
“[These robberies] put everybody on high alert here,” the owner said. “We have to go through our procedures and make sure everybody knows where the panic and alarm buttons are, and our armed guards are watching very carefully and seeing who’s coming in and who’s hanging around and things like that, especially when you get four guys coming in at one time.”
The owner said he blames newer state policies like Proposition 47, which makes all thefts less than $950 in value a misdemeanor.
“It seems like LA is spreading down to Orange County now,” he said. “I told my crew it’s only a matter of time [until we’re targeted].”
JB Diamonds & Fine Jewelry declined to provide a comment.